Learners lead the way in water savings
Joint statement from the Premier’s office and the Education Ministry
Learners from two Cape Town schools have become the teachers when it comes to saving water, after their efforts to reduce water use earned them the winning spots in the #MySmartWaterMeterChallenge.
The two schools, Nooitgedacht Primary School in Bishop Lavis and Cravenby Secondary in Elsies River, received the awards for the #MySmartWaterMeterChallenge during an event held at Nooitgedacht Primary, and attended by Premier Alan Winde and MEC Debbie Schafer today.
They recorded the highest water savings out of 42 schools entered into the competition.
The project encouraged schools to save water by conducting maintenance on the water infrastructure, and then installing water meters, which encouraged behavioural changes among staff and learners.
Nooitgedacht Primary School Reduced their water consumption by 55.23% or 158 kilolitres over a four month period. This represents a monetary saving of R15 365, which the school is able to use for other priorities.
At Cravenby Secondary school, a 33% and 400KL reduction was recorded- valued at R38 915.
Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde said: “These awards just go to show the impact that every person doing their bit, can play in developing our resilience as a province. Our dam levels may have improved since we started this project, but we need to continue to be aware of how we use water as a precious resource. Well done to all the staff and learners at our winning schools and at all the schools that participated in the project.
As a government, we encourage all of our citizens to take responsibility, and by actively working to save water, these schools have also created significant cost savings which they can now put towards other projects and priorities,” he said.
In total, all of the schools participating in the project have contributed to a combined savings of over R40 million and almost 550 million litres of water over the seven month duration of the entire project.
Minister Debbie Schafer said, “We started this initiative at a time where our lives depended on saving every drop of water that we possibly could. I was excited to launch the school water meter system and I am even more excited to see how, more than 18 months later, how much water and money schools have saved. I am impressed how we all pulled together to meet the unprecedented crisis that we faced. The smart water meter initiative is an excellent example of the private sector rising to the challenge of a crisis, and working with all parties on a solution. I would like to see this project continue, in line with our commitment to sustainable schools”.
How the project worked:
At the height of the water crisis in Cape Town in 2018, the Western Cape Government’s Policy and Strategy Unit embarked on a behavioural change initiative in collaboration with Shoprite, the Western Cape Education Department, Stellenbosch University, UCT and Cape Talk.
The aim of the project was to study the impact that a combination of smart water meters, basic infrastructure upgrades and behavioural interventions could have on reducing water usage in schools.
The #SmartWaterMeterChallenge project was headed up by Professors Thinus Booysen (Stellenbosch) and Martine Visser (UCT).
Through the project, 345 schools received water meters, and basic maintenance upgrades to their water infrastructure. The installation of the meters and data collection was managed by BridgIoT, a company founded by Professor Booysen.
After these were installed, a research team, headed by Professor Visser, and including behavioural economists, used the data to test the behavioural interventions. A subset of 120 schools was identified, and split into three groups.
Group 1 received weekly feedback reports with graphical representations of their water usage.
Group 2 received the same feedback as group 1, but were also entered into a competition.
Group 3 acted as the control group and did not receive any information.
An evaluation of the impact of the maintenance campaign found that basic infrastructure repairs worth R5000, reduced a school’s water leaks by 28% within five days. A second evaluation based solely on the behavioural interventions, found that these led to water usage reductions of between 15 and 26%.
Special thanks must go to Shoprite, Bridgiot, and the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Cape Town, the team at Cape Talk, as well as every company and individual that has pledged to this water meter initiative. Their support is greatly appreciated.